During the recent family-focused Christmas season, one rather troubling set of recent statistics that may have the same effect as an Ebenezer Scrooge or Lionel Barrymore’s Henry Potter on our next Christmas are these:

1. According to the US census and Pew Research Center single people now outnumber the married folks.

2. And according to Pew Research Center, the only socioeconomic group that embraces marriage are wealthier white Americans. The working class folks that fill our county are avoiding marriage in record numbers.

I find it both humorous and heartbreaking that the conservatives, who give the best lip service to family values, are the very group that is largely to blame for the disappearance of two parent, working middle-class families. Their policies have decimated the economic-security that motivates moms to be or stay married.

Financial hardship exacerbates divorce. It’s no secret that the job-exporting “right” demonizes the eight percent of the workforce that is unionized. Yet they turn a blind eye to criminally exploding management and public salaries which we can see right here in Southern California, many in our county. The right even deplores the media’s newspaper that won a Pulitzer for exposing the City of Bell’s million-dollar salary scandal.

But union truck drivers here now make less than $15 per hour. And largely due to the non-union auto plants in Republican-led right-to-work states, General Motors and Chrysler will now pay $15.83 per hour for new hires, or about half what their tenured UAW coworkers make.

Median income here has dropped in the last ten years to under $19,000 a person in Hemet and the San Jacinto Valley, equivalent of $9.50 an hour. Our nation’s largest private employer pays less than $9.50 an hour.

I could not support my family of four in 1990 on $15 per hour. I worked for a local contractor who avoided paying prevailing wage on a public building because the developer was leasing back the building to the governmentt in Riverside. And the GOP wants us to believe broke people barely scraping by could replace the IRS by paying a national sales tax? Really?

3. And that underpaid truth, which we heretofore have denied at our own peril, is why “99 cent” stores, Target and Walmart are the main stores and employers in our county.

This is why violent crime is on the rise here along with prostitution and home-grown marijuana. Not too different from Bedford Falls as compared to Pottersville (a.k.a. pot-heads-ville?) in our favorite holiday movie!

Underemployed people that make the median $9.50 an hour can’t “leave and cleave” to become a family unless they live in a tent. But carry on Greedy Oligarchy Party, carry on.

Mike Reno
Pine Cove